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248 votes
4 answers
153k views

What is the dark spot visible below the cockpit on A-10s?

On most A-10s I have seen, the area under the cockpit is darker than the rest of the plane. Is there a reason for this?
flyingfisch's user avatar
  • 14.6k
202 votes
14 answers
266k views

Can Microsoft Flight Simulator help me learn to fly (or make me a better pilot)?

Microsoft Flight Simulator has "flight lessons" with a virtual flight instructor, some of which teach concepts that are taught during actual flight training. These simulators are becoming very ...
Lnafziger's user avatar
  • 59k
160 votes
3 answers
51k views

Why does XKCD say that autogyros will crash if the pilot reacts to a stall as in a normal airplane?

This recent XKCD comic is all about autogyros. Image is copyright XKCD, licensed under CC 2.5 BY-NC The note at the bottom is what got my attention Extremely safe, unless you do the one thing you ...
Machavity's user avatar
  • 6,213
144 votes
9 answers
105k views

Is this plane landing or departing?

I have a picture of Air Force One I took fairly up close several years ago. Unfortunately, I don't remember if that was on arrival or departure. Is there anything visible in the airplane's ...
abelenky's user avatar
  • 30.7k
126 votes
9 answers
42k views

How do jet fighters get to war?

Currently Australia is deploying F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to the UAE to fight in Iraq. Obviously the UAE (and Iraq) is a very long way from Australia and well beyond the typical range of one of these ...
thexacre's user avatar
  • 1,260
116 votes
13 answers
43k views

Why does it take so long to develop modern military jets?

In the 1960's, it took three years to produce a flying prototype of an aircraft that flew faster than anything before, was built out of a novel construction material, used a new type of fuel, and was ...
Koyovis's user avatar
  • 61.8k
116 votes
9 answers
33k views

Is there a maximum possible size for an airplane?

Is there any theoretical or practical limit to the maximum number of passengers - and therefore size - one can build an airplane for?
Deschele Schilder's user avatar
112 votes
4 answers
42k views

Why is the maximum speed of current fighter aircraft lower than those from the 1960's and 1970's?

While reading about the characteristics of the newest fighter aircraft, I observed that their maximum speed is lower than of the aircraft in the same roles half a century ago. For example, the iconic ...
vsz's user avatar
  • 2,001
112 votes
3 answers
32k views

Why did this plane fly in a zigzag pattern?

I was tracking flight NKS739 from LAX to SEA this morning and saw that it made some some odd turns. If you look at the track from FlightRadar24.com you can see that it was heading toward SEA then it ...
TomMcW's user avatar
  • 28.6k
109 votes
7 answers
44k views

Can a fighter jet be stolen?

What (if any) sort of pilot authentication systems do fighter jets have? Could anyone with the required skills simply take the aircraft or is a key or authorization code required?
user371366's user avatar
  • 1,123
108 votes
14 answers
44k views

Can a passenger realistically replace suddenly incapacitated pilots?

Yes, this is a question from the movies. Assume that the plane is in flight and in perfect mechanical conditions. However, all the pilots onboard are suddenly incapacitated. Can a passenger without ...
sdfsdf's user avatar
  • 1,225
105 votes
2 answers
23k views

Why do airlines follow these routes between Barcelona and Düsseldorf?

In the wake of GermanWings' terrible incident of flight 9525, I have noticed that the crash location is quite far from the shortest route connecting the two airports. I then went on FlightRadar24's ...
Federico's user avatar
  • 32.6k
104 votes
15 answers
84k views

Why are planes generally painted white?

When planes come off the assembly line at the factory, they're green: So why are most painted white? Surely a darker colour would hide dirt better? Is there a reason planes are traditionally white? ...
Danny Beckett's user avatar
102 votes
14 answers
53k views

Why are the cockpit controls of airplanes so complicated?

For a layman like myself, the cockpit of every single modern airplane that I've laid my eyes on seems like a complex, intimidating mess with knobs, buttons, screens and levers literally covering every ...
Speldosa's user avatar
  • 1,525
99 votes
11 answers
103k views

Can someone actually "fly under the radar"?

It is quite a common phrase, usually without having anything to do with radar or aviation. But. Is there such a thing as 'flying under the radar'? If so, why is this (and how low is that)?
Řídící's user avatar
  • 2,516
98 votes
5 answers
24k views

Why is "Affirm / Negative" used instead of "Yes / No"?

Does anyone know why we use Affirm and Negative in RT, rather than Yes and No? I assume it's to prevent confusion with accents and other languages - but Yes and No sound very different to me!
CharlieEGMC's user avatar
  • 1,041
95 votes
11 answers
61k views

Why do fighter jets still have guns/cannons?

I noticed that the "new" F-35 still has a GAU-22/A cannon installed in it -- albeit with only 182 rounds (more with ammo pods). Why do fighters still have cannons? The day of dogfighting is long ...
RoboKaren's user avatar
  • 8,071
94 votes
15 answers
19k views

Are wings any more efficient at creating lift, versus orienting the engine's thrust downwards?

As I understood from this article, wings on an airplane basically create lift by pushing air down. Maintaining the lift force expends energy because air needs to be continually accelerated downwards. ...
user9037's user avatar
  • 973
93 votes
6 answers
97k views

If my parachute fails to open, why should I aim for land rather than water?

I was watching these 'what if' parachute failure videos on YouTube and everywhere they say do not choose water over land. Why should we not choose water and what happens if we land in water? One ...
karthikdivi's user avatar
90 votes
5 answers
48k views

Why does the F-111 sometimes squirt a giant fire plume behind it? (NOT afterburners!)

As seen in multiple pictures: First, this one, it appears the aircraft is spraying copious amounts of fuel into the exhaust! Surely this provides no thrust, not in the way an afterburner (which the ...
Bassinator's user avatar
  • 5,490
90 votes
5 answers
25k views

Why do we need to starve the engine before turning it off?

This question is for Piper Tomahawk, but I guess applies to any small aircraft. Why do we need to use the fuel mixture to starve the engine before turning it off with the key? Why can't we just turn ...
Cloud's user avatar
  • 13.5k
90 votes
1 answer
9k views

What is this plane flying in overlapping circles pattern doing?

I have seen this Beechcraft Super King Air coming from France near Valenciennes and flying in circular patterns over a zone of Belgium for 2 days in a row now. What is it doing, some kind of aerial ...
DistractedAvFan's user avatar
89 votes
6 answers
26k views

Why do we still use pilots to fly airplanes?

With the recent advances in drone and remote control technology, why are there still commercial and military pilots? I understand that there can be some serious tactical advantages to human pilots in ...
Keegan's user avatar
  • 6,877
87 votes
4 answers
67k views

Why are Russian cockpit panels painted in turquoise?

Almost all cockpit panels of Russian aircraft types are painted in turquoise, whereas elsewhere the cockpit panels usually exhibit a dark grey color. As this "rule" seems to be quite prevalent, I am ...
tssch's user avatar
  • 1,035
86 votes
15 answers
45k views

What is the slowest fixed-wing airplane?

It's easy to find information about the fastest airplanes, in different categories (e.g. X-15, SR-71, the Concorde etc), but what is the slowest one? Which powered, manned airplane is capable of ...
el.pescado - нет войне's user avatar
86 votes
18 answers
179k views

Why haven't quadcopters been scaled up yet?

Why are quadcopters not flown by human pilots yet? Wouldn't they be more stable and easier to control than helicopters?
ratsimihah's user avatar
86 votes
11 answers
50k views

Do pilots really wear "pilot's watches"?

High-end mechanical wristwatches from Swiss and German manufacturers (e.g. Breitling, Rolex etc.) are often marketed as "pilot's watches", and have chronometer features to supposedly help pilots ...
user11250's user avatar
  • 739
85 votes
5 answers
46k views

If a pilot ejects, what is the autopilot programmed to do?

If a pilot uses their ejector seat during flight, what is the autopilot programmed to do? As a developer myself, I'd want to build in a way for the plane to try and save itself if possible (to save ...
Cloud's user avatar
  • 13.5k
83 votes
1 answer
12k views

Why did this FedEx flight (FDX1311) take such an indirect route multiple times?

I was looking at flights from DEN -> MEM, and saw this extra-long route that FDX1311 took last night (9 Aug 2021) Thinking they were probably just avoiding storms, I scrolled down and saw there ...
Ziwcam's user avatar
  • 763
82 votes
8 answers
20k views

Why do aircraft models end their life as freighters?

There seems to be a tendency that aircraft models are more long-lived for cargo than for passenger service. For example, both the A300 and MD-11 are all but extinct in scheduled passenger service, ...
hmakholm left over Monica's user avatar
82 votes
7 answers
39k views

Why does the B-52 take off without rotating?

In the answer to this question it is noted that the B-52 takes off without rotating and climbs out in a nose-down attitude. Why was it designed this way?
TomMcW's user avatar
  • 28.6k
82 votes
4 answers
15k views

How do civilian pilots and ATC verify that other people on the radio are who they claim to be?

I am interested in authentication - how identity is verified - in civilian aviation radio transmissions. I know that when someone is speaking on the radio he tells his call sign. But is there any ...
vasili111's user avatar
  • 917
80 votes
7 answers
29k views

How miraculous was the miracle on the Hudson?

The "miracle on the Hudson" was extremely unusual - dual engine failures and successful off-field landings in commercial A320-size aircraft are very rare. The event has been dramatized and the crew (...
Thomas's user avatar
  • 1,626
80 votes
3 answers
25k views

I just flew into class B airspace without a clearance, what should I do now?

Hypothetical: Let's say (for whatever reason) a pilot became distracted or disorientated, and found themselves in class B airspace. What steps should they take immediately and after landing to be ...
Joe's user avatar
  • 1,759
79 votes
4 answers
16k views

Why do control towers have tilted glass panels?

Almost all control towers I've seen have tilted glass panels: Amsterdam-Schiphol tower (EHAM), source. What is the reason behind this choice? How is the tilt angle determined?
mins's user avatar
  • 74.7k
78 votes
2 answers
35k views

Why are aircraft tires not pre-spun prior to landing to preserve them?

Why has someone not designed a landing wheel with a fin or fins on it so that the air will start the wheels turning before the wheels touch the ground? Wouldn't that preserve the tires longer from ...
Israel Jantzen's user avatar
77 votes
7 answers
23k views

Do helicopters use more fuel when hovering?

This answer says A helicopter uses a LOT more fuel hovering than it does in forward flight. Is this correct? Why?
Delta Oscar Uniform's user avatar
77 votes
4 answers
35k views

How did the 9/11 hijackers find their way to New York City?

It is quite well known that the airplane hijackers on 9/11 were not professional pilots. So, my question is how some people who didn't have any experience of navigating the airplanes could find their ...
Mithridates the Great's user avatar
77 votes
14 answers
24k views

Is it considered good or bad practice to raise the flaps right after touchdown?

This question is about light, tricycle, single engine aircraft. I have made it a habit to raise the flaps right after touchdown (when the nosewheel is on the ground). My instructor used to do that ...
Philippe Leybaert's user avatar
76 votes
10 answers
39k views

Is a firm landing an indication of the pilot inexperience?

In a commercial airplane, when a landing has been a bit firm, a passenger may think it was not perfect, or maybe performed by an inexperienced pilot. (Source) A perfect landing is seen by passengers ...
mins's user avatar
  • 74.7k
76 votes
4 answers
26k views

Has any passenger airliner ever offered forward-facing windows?

The empty, dolphin-like, forehead of the A380 seems like it would be an amazing place for the first and/or business class bar, especially if it had forward-facing windows. I realize in the A380's ...
Dan1701's user avatar
  • 1,447
76 votes
4 answers
99k views

Why do English-speaking pilots and ATC say "Niner" instead of "Nine"?

Besides the fact that it's now a standard, why do American-English-speaking pilots and ATC say "Niner" instead of "Nine"? None of the other numerals are pronounced in an atypical fashion. For what ...
End Antisemitic Hate's user avatar
76 votes
1 answer
12k views

How is tire rubber removed from the runway?

Every time an aircraft touches down, the tires are spun up rapidly. As a result, some rubber is left at the touchdown zone. (image source) As time goes on, more rubber is accumulated at the ...
kevin's user avatar
  • 39.8k
74 votes
10 answers
142k views

What happens when an airplane stalls and why do pilots practice it?

When a non-pilot hears the word stall, it brings to mind what happens when a car stalls - the engine quits. It seems like that would be a dangerous scenario in an airplane. From a non-pilot ...
Magnetoz's user avatar
  • 3,865
73 votes
4 answers
19k views

Why do all commercial aircraft have carpets?

When flying I noticed that all the commercial aircraft I have been on use carpets as a floor covering. But why? If you fly in an older aircraft it looks worn out and it is susceptible to stains etc. ...
Brilsmurfffje's user avatar
73 votes
7 answers
17k views

What do aircraft accident investigators do in between incidents?

Consider aircraft accident investigators in your average first- or second-world nation. Something like the US NTSB, the French BEA, the Canadian TSB, the Australian TSB, ... (whichever you happen to ...
user's user avatar
  • 6,984
73 votes
4 answers
86k views

What is the purpose of the sharp pods under airliner wings?

What are the pods with the sharp trailing edges underneath the wings of large airliners, as shown in the image below? My best guess would be fuel tanks
Jonny's user avatar
  • 2,038
73 votes
3 answers
21k views

Why does Chicago O'Hare have a penalty box?

I was reading What information does a pilot have about aircraft operating on an intersecting runway? and noticed this on the map: (airnav.com) Why is a "penalty box" marked on the map? What is it? ...
user avatar
72 votes
6 answers
31k views

Why are fuel tanks in the wings filled first, and why are they used last?

When fueling airliners, why is fuel filled first in the tanks in the wings and then the center tanks? And why do they use fuel from the center tanks first and then from the tanks in the wings? From ...
lemonincider's user avatar
  • 7,565
72 votes
12 answers
17k views

Why don't commercial jet aircraft have a break-apart, parachute escape system?

Imagine that the pilots on a jet aircraft determine that it will crash. Consider what would happen if the design of the craft allowed it to: Break into four pieces Each piece is pressurized ...
Corey's user avatar
  • 777

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